Born to Indian parents in Vancouver, Canada celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh is the perfect example of achieving the impossible and literally living a dream. Some of the notable clients he has worked with in his career include: Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Natalie Portman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Fergie, Josh Hartnett, Al Pacino and the one and only Gisele Bundchen, who also happens to be one of Harry’s closest friends. In a community where the norm is to be a doctor or an engineer he broke the mould and became the first Indian hairstylist in Hollywood. Harry also serves as the International Creative Consultant for John Frieda. He spoke to me about his entry into the fashion industry, his interest in coming to India and shared some amazing hair tips!
How did you decide to become a hairdresser?
HJ: I used to loiter outside a hair salon with my friends when I was supposed to be in college. One day the owners of the salon asked if we wanted to become interns and that sounded awesome. I was there a few months, learnt a ton and fell in love with what I was doing. Once, I was flipping through an issue of Vogue and saw an outtake of Cindy Crawford and someone doing her hair that’s when I realized I wanted to do that. Travel with supermodels, work with them and make money for it. I was so sure of my spirit I thought if I worked hard enough I would do it. After working as an assistant hair stylist for many years and being rejected by agents in both Miami and New York I ended up as a casting director for fashion shows and simultaneously styled hair from my home.
What do you consider your ‘big break’?
HJ: In 2002 I was still styling people’s hair from my apartment; I used my sink to wash everyone’s hair, including Gisele’s. The beauty editor of Vogue met a few models whose hair I had styled and she came to my home to interview me. After the interview was published in the March issue my life changed. Overnight I got over 600 phone calls from people all over the country asking me to cut their hair and an agency called interested in representing me.
Who are some of your favorite celebrity clients?
HJ: Gisele Bundchen, Ellen Pompeo, Gwyneth Paltrow & Fergie.
Who in your opinion has the best hair in Hollywood?
HJ: Hands down, Gisele Bundchen.
Have you ever considered doing working in India?
HJ: Yes, I would love to work in India educating and advising women how to take care of their hair.
Whose hair would you want to style in Bollywood?
HJ: Aishwarya Rai, of course!
What inspires you?
HJ: The lower income artsy, hipster places in NYC really inspire me. That’s where all the artists and young community lives, they design on a dime so coming up with cool ways of wearing their hair and sometimes it’s truly inspiring.
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
HJ: There are 2 people who have been an inspiration to me: Gandhi & Oprah. Both of them believed in what they wanted out of life and that anything is possible.
Who is your dream client?
HJ: I’ve worked with everyone who I ever dreamed of working with.
So, who does your hair?
HJ: My assistant, who’s been working for me for 3 years.
What do you believe makes a good stylist?
HJ: Thinking outside the box
What advice do you have for people who wish to go into the industry?
HJ: You need to master your craft, practice until you’re the best student in the class. Become an over-achiever and dream about the end result of what you want.
What is the one must for maintaining good hair?
HJ: Educating yourself about products, there are so many products out there and most people never know what they should be using. Read beauty blogs and magazines because they’re there to tell you what to do.
Monsoon season has just set in; do you have any hair tips for our readers?
HJ: Monsoon is the worst time of the year in India, even people with the silkiest hair can’t escape. Frizz-ease from John Frieda is geared towards helping your hair even in this extreme season. Apply a serum when hair is super wet to conquer frizz immediately, don’t use a hair dryer. Also, never touch your hair. The more you touch it the more you disrupt its texture and the frizzier it gets.
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
HJ: I’d like to have a presence in India and be a voice for younger people who want to do what I do in Hollywood and the fashion industry. I’d also like to have a television series showcasing my strengths of who I am.